The Joseph Smith Papers
|Author||Joseph Smith, Jr.|
|Published||2008 (LDS Church Historian’s Press)|
|Media type||Print and online (with the latter at JosephSmithPapers.org)|
The Joseph Smith Papers (or Joseph Smith Papers Project) is a project researching, collecting, and publishing all manuscripts and documents created by, or under the direction of, Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. The documents, which include transcriptions and annotations, have been published both online and in printed form. The project is sponsored by the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), while the website and volumes are published under the department's imprint, the Church Historian's Press.
History of the project
After Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, a collection of his papers was carried West by Brigham Young and other church leaders. Some significant documents remained with John Whitmer, Smith’s widow Emma, and others. Many of these were not published until years later by the LDS Church, the Community of Christ, and independent researchers. The “Roots of the current effort” began in the late 1960s when Truman G. Madsen invited Dean C. Jessee, then an employee of the Church Historian’s Office, to contribute documents relating to Joseph Smith and early Mormonism to issues of BYU Studies. In 1972 Leonard J. Arrington was appointed the Church Historian and he directed Jessee to continue to "locate, collect, and transcribe Smith’s writings.” This resulted in Jessee’s 1984 publication, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith followed by the two volume Papers of Joseph Smith, the first in 1989 and the second in 1992.
In 2001, Dean Jessee's project became a joint venture between Brigham Young University and the LDS Church Archives. The project was renamed The Joseph Smith Papers and expanded with added funding from Larry H. and Gail Miller.
In August 2004, the Project received endorsement by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, a division of the National Archives, to ensure research is conducted according to the highest scholarly standards. The Project was moved back to the Church History Department in 2005.
Although not an official part of the project, a documentary TV series also called The Joseph Smith Papers was created. This series documented the creation of and work involved in the Joseph Smith Papers Project. It was produced by KJZZ-TV in cooperation with the LDS Church Historical Department.
In February 2008, The Church Historian’s Press, an imprint of the Church History Department of the LDS Church, was established "for publishing works related to the Church’s origin and growth." The publication of The Joseph Smith Papers is the press's initial project.
Marlin K. Jensen, Church Historian and Recorder at the time of the announcement, said the project will include “journals, diaries, correspondence, articles and notices. Everything of a written nature Joseph Smith generated, or over which he had oversight.” High resolution images of many of the original documents were published by Brigham Young University Press in 2002 as part of Selected Collections from the Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The two volume set contains 76 DVDs of images from 1830 to 1923, including complete images of the Joseph Smith Collection, circa 1831-1844, the Revelations Collections, circa 1831-1876, architectural drawings of the Nauvoo Temple, and several volumes containing minutes from meetings Joseph Smith attended or oversaw. Annotated transcriptions of the Joseph Smith related document from this DVD collection, in addition to the number of Joseph Smith documents housed in widespread repositories and in private collections will make the documents far more accessible to scholars of American religious history, historians, researchers, and the public.
Before publication, transcripts of the manuscripts are verified three times, and annotation is supplied to illuminate the historical context of each document..” To assure quality, all citations and footnotes are verified, often double-checked, by production editors and carefully copy edited. The manuscripts are also examined by editors over the project, and drafts of volumes are reviewed by external scholarly reviewers and General Authorities of the LDS Church.
The first volume of The Joseph Smith Papers, entitled, The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839, was released in December 2008. Despite the $50 retail price, unexpectedly high demand caused the initial printing of 12,500 copies to sell out in two weeks, and the publishers to triple their projected second printing order to 16,500. Many Christmas purchasers bought gift certificates for the coming printing and some extant copies were resold for over twice the retail price.
As of October 10, 2009 over 48,000 copies of volume 1 were sold. The second volume of the The Joseph Smith Papers, entitled The Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books was available for purchase September 23, 2009. The original sales projection for this volume was 3,000 copies. Within two weeks, over 6,100 copies were sold in Deseret Book retail stores and over 11,000 copies were requested by other bookstores.
In 2008, Journals, Volume 1: 1832-1839 received the Special Award in Textual Criticism and Bibliography from the Association for Mormon Letters., and the Steven F. Christensen Best Documentary Award from the Mormon History Association in 2009.
According to the Joseph Smith Papers website, “the print edition of The Joseph Smith Papers will consist of about twenty volumes.” The Joseph Smith Papers have been divided into the following series:
The Journals series consists of the ten journals kept by Joseph Smith and his scribes from 1832 to 1844.
- Volume 1: 1832-1839 (published November 26, 2008)
- Volume 2: December 1841-April 1843 (published November 15, 2011)
- Volume 3
The Documents series will contain correspondence, sermons and other addresses, official declarations and pronouncements, editorials and articles from periodicals, early versions of revelations, and "selected minutes and proceedings." Twelve volumes are projected for the print edition. Several hundred documents from this series are available on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
- Volume 1
- Volume 2
- Volume 3
- Volume 4
- Volume 5
- Volume 6
- Volume 7
- Volume 8
- Volume 9
- Volume 10
- Volume 11
- Volume 12
The Histories series was planned to contain Joseph Smith's complete manuscript history, begun by Smith in 1838, and continued by clerks after his death in 1844. Two volumes will be included in the print edition. According to the website, "the entire multivolume manuscript history" will be published online.
- Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832-1844 (published March 19, 2012)
- Volume 2: Assigned Historical Writings, 1831-1847 (published September 2012)
Legal and business records
The series will contain legal papers in which Smith was a judge, witness, plaintiff or a defendant, and financial records including land transactions and "accounts of church-owned businesses." Only one volume is projected to be included in the print edition. Additional material will be available online.
- Volume 1
Revelations and translations
This series will contain the earliest known manuscripts text of revelations received by Joseph Smith and published in his lifetime including the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon, the published Book of Mormon, and the Book of Commandments.
- Volume 1 Manuscript Revelation Books, Facsimile Edition (Published September 22, 2009)
- Volume 1 Manuscript Revelation Books (Published March 9, 2011)
- Volume 2 Published Revelations (Published March 18, 2011)
- Volume 3 Book of Mormon Printer’s Manuscript
The Administrative Records series will publish records relating to the "institutions that were established under Smith's directions" as well as minutes for meetings Smith attended.
- Minute Book 1 (Published online, 2011)
- Minute Book 2 (Published online, 2011)
- Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book (Published online, 2011)
Editorial board and project staff
The current and editorial board and project staff are as follows:
Marlin K. Jensen - Church Historian and Recorder (through early 2012)
Steven E. Snow - Church Historian and Recorder (from early 2012)
Richard E. Turley Jr. - Assistant Church Historian and Recorder
Reid L. Neilson - Managing Director, Church History Department
Matthew J. Grow Director, Products Division, Church History Department
Max J. Evans - Director, Collections Division, Church History Department
National Advisory Board
Managing Editor Ronald K. Esplin
Associate Managing Editor Jeffrey N. Walker
Associate Editor Ronald O. Barney
Program Manager David L. Willden
Production Manager R. Eric Smith
Project Archivist Robin Scott Jensen
Document Specialists Christy L. Best, Jeffrey G. Cannon, Sharalyn D. Howcroft
Volume Co-editors Mark Ashurst-McGee, Ronald O. Barney, Alexander L. Baugh, Joseph I. Bentley, Joseph F. Darowski, Kay Darowski, Karen Lynn Davidson, Steven C. Harper, William G. Hartley, Andrew H. Hedges, Robin Scott Jensen, Gordon A. Madsen, Max H. Parkin, Alex D. Smith, Steven R. Sorensen, Morris A. Thurston, Grant Underwood, Jeffrey N. Walker, David J. Whittaker, Robert J. Woodford.
Consulting Scholar John W. Welch
Production Editors R. Eric Smith, senior editor, Linda Hunter Adams, Susan Hainsworth, Rachel Osborne, Sarah Gibby Peris, Heather Seferovich, Nathan N. Waite.
- Book of Mormon
- Doctrine and Covenants
- Golden Plates
- Joseph Smith Papyri
- Pearl of Great Price (Mormonism)
- With co-sponsorship by the U.S. National Archives
- "About the Project". The Joseph Smith Papers website. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
- Jessee, Esplin & Bushman 2008, p. xxxix-xl
- Jessee, Esplin & Bushman 2008, p. xl
- Walch, Tad (April 4, 2005). "Miller funding Joseph Smith project". Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City, Utah). Retrieved 2008-12-02.
- "Publications Projects Endorsed by the National Archives". Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- Choate, Amy (August 12, 2004). "Joseph Smith research gets top endorsement". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- Elaine Jarvik (4 November 2007). "TV show to preview Smith Papers Project". Deseret News. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
- "New Publishing Imprint Set to Boost Mormon Scholarship". Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. February 25, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
- "Selected Collections from the Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Volumes One and Two)". Brigham Young University Press. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
- Jessee, Esplin & Bushman 2008, p. Preface
- "Landmark Publication Launches: Inaugural Volume of Joseph Smith Papers Now Available". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- Arave, Lynn (December 9, 2008). "New Joseph Smith book sells out quickly". Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah). Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- "AML Awards:Special Award in Textual Criticism and Bibliography". Association for Mormon Letters. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
- "MHA 2009 Award Winners". Mormon History Association. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
- "Joseph Smith Papers: Editorial Method". Retrieved 2011-05-27.
- "About The Volumes". The Joseph Smith Papers. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
- Lloyd, R. Scott (November 17, 2011). "New Joseph Smith Papers volume covers Nauvoo period of church". Church News. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- Jessee, Esplin & Bushman 2008, p. xl–xli
- "The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents: Letters, revelations, reports of discourses, minutes, etc.". Retrieved 2011-05-27.
- Jessee, Esplin & Bushman 2008, p. xli
- "Joseph Smith Papers project releases first Histories volume". LDS Living. March 13, 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
- Lloyd, R. Scott (October 3, 2012), "Joseph Smith Papers' 'Histories' Vol. 2 released", Deseret News
- "Project Organization". The Joseph Smith Papers. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- Jessee, Dean C.; Esplin, Ronald K.; Bushman, Richard Lyman (2008). The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839. Salt Lake City: The Church Historian's Press..
- The Joseph Smith Papers website
- The Joseph Smith Papers: Administrative Records: Minute Book 1 online edition
- The Joseph Smith Papers: Administrative Records: Minute Book 2 online edition
- The Joseph Smith Papers: Administrative Records: Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book online edition
- The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents: Letters, revelations, reports of discourses, minutes, etc. online collection
- Marlin K. Jensen, "The Joseph Smith Papers: The Manuscript Revelation Books", Ensign, July 2009
- Church History Library website